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Momentum Growing For Special Local Government Conference

Momentum is clearly growing for a Special Local Government Conference as more branches, activists and members realise the scale of deceit taking place under the white flag “consultation” over the NJC pay non-proposals.

Our Branch has been contacted by 27 Branches so far who tell us they have already submitted the template requisition motion for a Special Conference to Head Office.

We’ve also been told by 11 other Branches they definitely intend to do so.

It’s just nine working days since we sent out our requisition so this is a really positive sign.

If you are a member of a branch that wants to submit a requisition then view our proposed model requisition motion and suggested covering email.

We need formal requisition motions from enough branches, which added together, account for at least 25% of the total membership assigned to the Local Government Service Group.

That total includes all members recorded on our membership system under the LG Service Group field, in all Regions of our union, whether they are on NJC pay or not.

The target has to be reached within two calendar months of the first requisition. We submitted our Branch requisition on 14 October so the final deadline is 13 December.

Branches had best aim to submit theirs a few days before that just to be safe, given how many normal UNISON procedures seem to have been thrown out the window recently.

That’s plenty of time for every branch that shares the widespread anger and disbelief at the national decision to agree the requisition in their normal cycle of Branch Committees or Branch Sector Committees.

It’s right and proper that a requisition motion has to be approved by a properly constituted branch body.

No doubt rigorous checks will be made of every branch that sends one in. The national machine will be poring over the branch decision-making process to try and rule out individual requisitions in a desperate bid to avoid a special conference being called.

Why some in the leadership are running scared of a special conference:

  • They want to avoid being accountable for the decision to pull the strike action.
  • They don’t want to be challenged on why members are being consulted on a pittance or why the deal was cynically distorted in material presented to members.
  • They want to avoid the possibility of the Pay Consultation process being put under the spotlight and being seen as inadequate (not that the leadership even followed it). They want to prevent radical changes being agreed that would ensure a small number of people no longer have the power to sell members out on this scale.
  • They want to stop Branches agreeing a way forward on pay.
  • They want to block Branches debating and agreeing the best future means of effectively representing members on pay and more generally in our Local Government structures.

As we’ve said previously our Branch has not taken this step lightly. We have never previously supported calls for a Special Conference but we believe recent events are so important and so incredible they mark a watershed moment for the future of our service group, our union and pay bargaining (as we currently know it) in local government.

Quislings in the bureaucracy and those amongst the lay careerists will no doubt present three main arguments against a Special Conference:

Argument One.

That by the time the 25% is reached or when a conference would take place the proposals will be accepted so what is the point?

Our answer.

Hopefully they will be rejected but it is possible that these non-proposals may be accepted.

The national union are publishing misleading pay examples and deliberately distorted tables of figures to deceive members and exaggerate the worth of the proposals.

Branches need to tell members just what the proposals really mean.

Our branch has sent out full details of the proposals, with a recommendation to reject.

The main point of the special conference requisition does not depend one bit on these pathetic non-proposals being rejected.

It is not simply about the outcome of this sham consultation.

And it is not just an opportunity for us plebs to throw rotten tomatoes at our betters and wring our hands over the ghost of this or disputes past.

The proposed business set out in the requisition motion for the special conference is fundamentally about how we take decisions over our pay and what do we do about securing real pay improvements for all our members.

Argument Two.

Why have a special conference to discuss NJC pay when it can be done at normal local government conference in June?

Our answer.

June is over half a year away. Some issues are of such fundamental importance they require and deserve the earliest consideration. And they deserve to be debated by activists in a focussed conference. Not tagged on to a Groundhog Day agenda for full Local Government Conference.

In any event – if the non-proposals are accepted – work should already be starting by next June on the shape of a pay claim for 2016/17. Which is exactly why we need to have this debate well in advance.

Argument Three.

Oh deary me. This will cost us a lot of money for no need.

Our answer.

Yes, a special conference will cost money. But if it gets us a few steps closer to putting some real pay improvements in our members’ pockets then it’s a price we should all agree is worth paying.

As it stands the union is taking our members’ subs out of their pockets and, at a national level, putting little work back in to stopping what will be at least seven years of successive real terms pay cuts.

And exactly who’s money is it?

Certainly not those in the bureaucracy who do not bring a penny into our union but give only 25% of national member subscriptions back to branches.

Certainly not some national lay careerists who haven’t been near a workplace or recruited a member in years, and who are on the union payroll and in effect are corrupted to a policy of inaction and defeatism.

It is our money.

And if we secure enough support to call a special conference then it will be through legitimate, democratic and accountable means.

The stated business for this requisition needs to be the same from all branches and needs to state:

‘In accordance with UNISON Rule D3.4.11 on xx.xx.xx date our Branch / Branch Executive agreed to call for the requisition of a Special Local Government Service Group Conference to consider the following business:

  • The 2014-2016 NJC Pay Proposals.
  • The decision to cancel strike action on 14th October.
  • The future Pay Consultation protocols in respect of Local Government pay claims.
  • The best means to secure a decent pay increase for Local Government members and to receive and consider all motions from Branches and Regions concerning the above.’


So that we can post updates and keep a check on the numbers will branches please let us know at unison@manchester.gov.uk if you have passed a requisition motion, sent it to Head Office, or are still considering it.

For further details view our proposed model requisition motion and suggested covering email.

This is just the start of the battle to get our union back on track.

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